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    How To Launch Your First YouTube Channel

     

    Do you want to follow in the footsteps of Zoella and create a successful YouTube channel? Well, there is no better time to start. Yet, don’t rush into making your first video. Instead, make an informed decision by learning how to launch our first YouTube channel.

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    Perform a Competitor Analysis

    You will more than likely understand the type of YouTube channel you would like to launch, which could range from “How to” videos to vlogs. Before you press record, it’s advisable to perform a competitor analysis, so you can gain an insight into what is or isn’t working for your rivals. Not only should you watch the videos, but you should look at their views and engagements, such as likes, shares and comments.

    Develop Your Brand

    The most successful vloggers have built their own successful brand. Your personality will ultimately determine your logo, thumbnails and banners, which can encourage trust in your videos. Think carefully about your tone of voice, USP and content, and aim to create a brand that is synonymous with your style. You should then learn how to make YouTube channel art to attract viewers to your videos successfully.

    Create a Content Strategy

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    Don’t just hit record and hope inspiration finds you. Develop a content marketing strategy for your YouTube channel. For instance, you must carefully consider the video content. Ask yourself the type of videos your audience wants to watch, and if there is anything missing online, so you can fill the gap. There are different forms of content you can create, such as product demonstrations, how-to videos and testimonials, plus more. Also, create a publishing schedule so your audience will know when to return to your channel to watch your latest videos. As soon as you know the types of videos you want to create, you should then set-up your first YouTube channel and upload your artwork.

    Start Creating Videos

    Once you have defined your brand and know the type of content you want to produce, the fun can really start. Try to produce high-quality videos that will reflect your brand, and keep the videos short to maintain both interest and engagement. Keep up-to-date on the most popular videos on YouTube right now and aim to identify why they are so successful – then follow in their footsteps.

    Optimize Your Channel

    Don’t upload your YouTube videos and wait for YouTube to do all the hard work. You must optimize the videos to ensure they rank highly in the search results. To do so, summarize the content in the video description, while naturally incorporating keywords into the content. You should also write a compelling video title and utilize tags to rank for your chosen keywords.

    Promote Your Video

    Not only must you aim to increase your visibility on YouTube, but you should also drive as many people as possible to your channel by promoting your videos on third-party websites. For instance, you can use the embed codes to promote them on your website, social media accounts and social bookmarking sites. You never know, you could become the next Zoella.

     

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  • VIP Drinks: Caorunn Cocktails

    Gin is becoming so trendy right now with pop-up gin bars springing up across the capital and around the UK, but you don’t have to go to a bar to enjoy a gin cocktail and live like a VIP.

    Scottish gin brand Caorunn has given us a couple of recipes to share and we do recommend using Caorunn to make the drinks as every sip of this Scottish gin offers a truly aromatic taste adventure through the rugged highlands yet delivers a clean and versatile taste.

    caorunn

    Relax in the garden with a refreshing drink or entertain your friends with these delicious ideas:

    Blush Apple Martini – serves one

    • 50ml Caorunn Gin
    • 40ml Pressed apple juice
    • 20ml Lemon juice
    • 10ml Gomme syrup

    Method: Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, shake and serve in a coupette glass. Garnish with three raspberries on a skewer – a fresh and delicious fruity martini

    Mackintosh Rose – serves four

    caorunn2

    • 150ml Caorunn Gin
    • 75ml Chambord
    • 325ml Cranberry or raspberry juice
    • 350ml tonic
    •   27drops Fee lemon bitters

    Method: Shake all ingredients together except the tonic and strain over cubed ice into a highball glass. Top with tonic, twist in the juice of a lemon wedge and use to garnish – a sweet, sour and sophisticated drink that’s perfect to serve before Easter lunch.

    If you’re looking for a unique drink to serve to friends and family at intimate gatherings, garden parties or for relaxing evenings on the terrace, Caorunn gin is the ideal option. It is passionately handcrafted in small batches in a unique Copper Berry chamber by Gin Master, Simon Buley, with his enviable distilling and spirit expertise. The speciality is created by infusing five locally-foraged botanicals including dandelion, heather, Coul blush apple, bog myrtle and rowan berry along with six traditional gin botanicals and natural Scottish water. Fresh and floral on the nose, this gin is clean, sweet, full-bodied and aromatic with a long-lasting dry and crisp finish.

    The round Copper Berry chamber contains four large trays on which the botanicals are spread. As the vapour passes through the trays it picks up the flavours of all the botanicals in a long, slow process. When it cools and returns to liquid, now gin, the botanicals are firmly embedded in the spirit.

    More about Caorunn:

    The name Caorunn originates from the Gaelic name for rowan berry, which grows wild in the impressive Scottish countryside. The rowan berry is handpicked and infused along with four other Scottish botanicals to create the gin. The Scottish ingredients also inspire the modern and elegant bottle, which has five sides to represent the five botanicals.

    Visit: www.caorunngin.com for further details. Caorunn available from £26.

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    Review: The Knightsbridge Hotel Tea

    Afternoon Tea is such a treat! I love the ceremony involved in pouring tea from a tea pot and working my way through crustless sandwiches, scones and pastries presented on a tea stand.

    These days, most hotels serve afternoon tea but I think The Knightsbridge Hotel is a cut above the rest. It’s located a stone’s throw from Harrods and Harvey Nichols on a quiet side street so you have the convenience of being in the heart of the action with none of the noise and stress that comes from being surrounded by people. When I walked into the door, I felt like I was stepping into a home from home.

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    The photo directly above shows an honesty bar, which tells you a lot about the people that stay at the hotel. You’ll find a civilised class of people occupying this boutique hotel’s 44 rooms and suites. There is a real feeling of calm in the drawing room and library, where you can take afternoon tea with adults or with children. Yes, that’s right – the hotel has developed a tea menu specifically designed for kids with hot chocolate or milkshake instead of tea, served with cakes and sandwiches that appeal to younger tastebuds.

    I have a baby on the way and I don’t doubt that I’ll return to introduce my little one to the delights of afternoon tea, but this time was a ‘date day’ with my other half. We’re making the most of being footloose and fancy free and being able to spend two hours over tea and this was definitely a spread to savour.

    tea-stand

    We started with a glass of Champagne (for him) and Elderflower Fizz (for me) while our tea orders were taken. There were so many blends to choose from but I opted for fresh mint and he went for Earl Grey. The sandwiches were lovely and dainty – my favourite was the smoked salmon and cream cheese while he liked ham and mustard.

    zoe-sandwich

    We both dived into the scones, arguing (in a good-natured way) about whether it should be jam followed by cream or cream followed by cream. I believe in cream first, spreading it like butter, while he spreads on the jam and then puts a huge spoonful of cream on top. What do you think is best?

    Cake-wise, there was a selection of chocolate crispie cakes, Victoria sponge, fruit tartlets and strawberry cupcakes. These were classics cakes done well. The Victoria Sponge was particularly amazing because it was dense, buttery, rich and had some gorgeous jam sandwiched between the layers. We ate one slice and took the other away for laters. The service is so friendly at The Knightsbridge Hotel that you don’t need to be embarrassed to ask to take the food away. Waiters come to take your order and make sure you have everything you need and then the room and food are yours to do as you please. I’ll raise a glass of elderflower fizz to that – cheers!

    zoe-fizz

    To find out more about afternoon tea for adults and kids, visit the Knightsbridge Hotel’s website.

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    VIP Dinner: Burger and Lobster

    If a restaurant has a small menu then it makes you hopeful they’re an expert in what they’re offering. When a chef is overstretched and trying to produce tens of dishes at once, they can’t take care and attention over the individual dishes. So I had high expectations about Burger and Lobster as there are only three dishes on the menu – Burgers, Lobsters and Lobster Rolls.

    I’m a bit late to join the party for once as the first Burger and Lobster opened in London in 2011, but in my defence I try to avoid places where you can’t make reservations as I despise queuing and at Burger and Lobster you can only make a reservation if you have more than six people in your party.

    burgerlobster-outside

    Instagram made me change my mind. If you look at a photo of a well cooked burger then you need it in your life and in your mouth immediately! Or is that just me? Anyway, my sister and I hoped that if we went late – around 930pm – on a Tuesday night then it wouldn’t be too busy. We chose the Bond Street location out of the 10 dotted across London so that we could do a spot of shopping at Selfridges first. I mean, this blog is all about living like a VIP after all.

    Luckily, a table for two was available straight away and we were led downstairs by a friendly waiter. The decor is smart but nothing special and I have to say that I think my sister expected more judging by the fact that it’s a restaurant that serves lobster. I put things into context by reminding her of all the boring and generic tourist trap restaurants in the Bond Street area and also that we would only be paying £20 a head. For that price, you’re not going to get marbles and mirrors, are you?

    The menu, not that we needed it, was written on a blackboard. Options were what we expected – burger, lobster or lobster roll served with chips and salad for £20 each. I went for the lobster roll and my sister went for the burger so that we could share.

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    At first, I was sceptical of the salad. What was the point when we were indulging in calorific burgers and lobster with mayo? However, the dressing on the salad was divine and there was some kind of cheese sprinkled on top. I found it pretty more-ish and I surprised myself by finishing the bowl.

    When it came to the main meals, I have to say I wasn’t disappointed by the promise of the small menu. The attention to detail is brilliant as the lobster is perfectly creamy and contrasts well with the sweet brioche roll. The burger has just the right amount of tomato, pickles and onion inside and the chef will gladly slice it in half for you if you tell them you’re sharing.

    When it came to paying, there was no awkwardness in splitting the bill. We both threw down a £20 note on the table and I added an extra £5 for service as I’m nice like that. Was it good value for money? Absolutely. However, I’m not sure I’d say that if I’d only had a burger on it’s own. While the burgers are massive (180g), I think £20 is a lot to pay for a burger so I recommend sharing or opting for a whole lobster roll on your own. If I go back then that’s what I’m having as it was sweet, succulent and filling. If you’re braver then me then you should try a lobster, but what put me off was the mess. Also, I know it’s weird but I think it feels too caveman-like to eat a creature out of it’s shell. If you can handle both of those points then they do look appealing (and Instragrammable!)

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    Have you been before? What did you think? We were almost tempted by a cocktail but we’re trying to do Dry January so that will be something for the next visit.

    For more details, visit the Burger and Lobster website. It’s open 7 days a week from lunchtime til late, so it’s very convenient and a perfect pitstop during a shopping trip.

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    VIP Night Out: Minster Court

    While I love fancy cuisine and tasting menus with exquisite flavours but tiny portions, sometimes I just want a hearty home-cooked meal that’s both filling and satisfying. I want good service that’s not suffocating and I want to feel comfortable where I’m sitting, not like I need to sit up straight and watch my table manners for fear of being thrown out.

    Just when I was beginning to fear that sharing plates and tasting menus were invading London, and I might have to turn my own oven on if I wanted a remedy, I stumbled across Minster Court, which is a Balls Brothers bar and restaurant in the heart of the city. It’s not easy to find – right in the centre of a courtyard off Mincing Lane – so part of its appeal is that not too many people know about the treats that lie in store there yet. At the time of our visit, it wasn’t too busy so my sister and I settled into the soft comfy chairs (like armchairs) and felt like we were at a home away from home.

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    One of the best ways to relax when you get home after a busy day is with a nice drink, isn’t it? The wine list is long and there’s a good selection of Champagnes by the glass (always important) but we decided to try the cocktails. I always think you can tell a lot by a bar’s cocktails as if they’re strong it’s a sign the place is generous and if they’re tasty it’s a good sign of the food  to come.

    Our favourite was the Sherry Cobbler, which is a mixture of Sherry, Bourbon, Cointreau and orange bitters. The cocktail menu says this was the most popular drink of the 19th century and one sip showed why as it’s fruity but not too sweet. An interesting fact is this drink is credited with popularising the drinking straw.

    sherry-cobbler

    We also tried the Regent’s Punch, which was created by King George IV, while he was known as Prince Regent and is a strong mix of rum, Courvoisier, orange curacao, Ceylon arrack with various fruit juices and finished with cava. Any more than two short glasses of this would be enough to knock even a cocktail lover like me to the floor. It looks so simple but never judge a glass by its appearance!

    minster-court-cocktail

    Afterwards, we were in desperate need of something to soak up the alcohol so we ordered smoked salmon to share. We both have a sweet tooth so we thought we’d share a starter to save room for later and we picked a good one to indulge the ‘home away from home’ feeling. Smoked salmon with thick slices of generously buttered  bread reminded us both of a special weekend tea that our Grandma used to serve.

    minster-court-starter

    My sister can never resist a steak so she ordered fillet steak, which was just as rare as she asked it for. I had a beautiful portion of fish and chips, which was better than any fish and chips takeaway I’d ever had at home. The batter was light and fluffy and the fish inside was succulent and soft, falling apart as the knife touched it.  Both of us cleared our plates.

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    Minster-court-fish-chips

    Sadly this meant we were too full for dessert, which were all hearty classics like chocolate fondant, sticky toffee pudding or apple crumble. So we ordered a cocktail to help us digest everything and I highly recommend the Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew, which is Beefeater Gin, London Pride, Lemon and Ginger Syrup.  Ginger is good for the digestion – something we also learned at home as our Grandmother used to offer us dark chocolate coated gingers after dinner.

    If you want a luxurious, but cosy  night out at affordable prices then  Minster Court is the answer. Visit the Minster Court website for menu, location and opening hours.

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    Yelp’s Biju Bubble Tea Masterclass

    Earlier this month I wrote about the #YelptoberFeast which was a month long festival of free food and free drinks at cool venues across London? Sounds too good to be true? It’s really not – to redeem free treats all you had to do was download the Yelp app and check-in to the venue’s profile on the app.

    And that’s not all as Yelp also organised special events through the month of October that were open to all people who RSVP-ed using the Yelp app or the Yelp website.  They were all pretty unique including an escapology lesson and an ice-cream making masterclass. I kept looking at these and wishing I was there until I finally downloaded the app and signed up for a Bubble Tea masterclass at Biju in Soho.

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    The event started with an introduction to what Bubble Tea was all about. This was very useful because although I tried Bubble Tea when I visited Beijing, I had no idea what it was or what the chewy balls in the bottom consisted of.

    Basically, bubble tea originated in Taiwan as a street food with tapioca pearls at the bottom of a cup of tea, sipped through a large straw so you occasionally get a chewy ball in the liquid mix. Biju is next level bubble tea, experimenting with tea flavours and pearl flavours (including exploding pearls) to give us all a healthy, fresh and tasty drink that we can customise to our own tastes. The essence is the same in the fact these drinks come with sweetie like things in the bottom, but you can have fruit teas, milk teas and even mousse based teas. Not a tea fan? That’s cool – you can also bubble up your coconut water!

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    We were all given an Earl Grey based tea to start with. All tea is brewed fresh, using fresh milk or almond or soy milk if you want a dairy free alternative. The black tapioca pearls are the most traditional variety and I loved the chewy texture.

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    Next up was peach ice tea with exploding guava pearls. To be honest, I was expecting them to taste like popping candy that you buy from the candy stores, but it’s more subtle than that. What happens is that the pearls explode as you bite them, giving you some guava juice in your mouth. Peach and guava went so well together!

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    After that, we tried watermelon milk tea with coconut pieces. It didn’t look very appetising but it was my favourite of the entire evening because the watermelon flavour was so subtle – it tasted natural and the ingredients are natural, which is always a bonus. The calorie content in these drinks is low too.

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    After these, I was pretty full but this was a masterclass and after we’d learned from the master it was time for the class element. We were allowed to pick and mix our own drink. I went a bit crazy and asked for apple ice tea with egg custard pieces, as it reminded me of apple crumble and custard, which is one of the best desserts ever. Then I went a bit crazy and added exploding lime pearls, which the drink really did not need as the lime was very tangy.

    If I was in a real class, I’d probably have given myself a B+. It would have been an A if I left out the lime.

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    Then the class got even more fun as we were allowed into the kitchen to truly put our creative minds to the test. As I’d tried a lot of tea, I was curious to see what would happen with a coconut water combination.

    biju-recipe

    My idea was to create a pina colada tea – something as delicious as the alcoholic cocktail that you sip on a beach but in London and non-hangover enducing. Above you can see coconut water, which I mixed with passion fruit syrup and peach syrup.

    biju-kitchen

    I enjoyed the part where I got to shake it up as you can really take out any frustrations on the cocktail shaker.

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    Finally, I scooped a handful of exploding guava pearl into the bottom of the cup and my masterpiece was ready. How did it taste? You can see by the look on my face that I was pretty proud of myself. A + I’d say!

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    Here’s a video the folks at Yelp made of the evening.

    If this makes you want to get in on the free stuff action then all you have to do is download the Yelp app – what’s stopping you?

    PS Join before 12 November and you can enter the Mulled Wine festival in London’s Covent Garden FOR FREE!

    Image Credit: Yelp

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    VIP Night Out: The Trading House

    Walking into The Trading House is like walking into Narnia. Outside, it’s nothing special, just an ordinary street in the City of London in between Bank and St Paul’s. But push open the door and step out of the cold and you’re greeted by dark wood, large chandeliers and some freakily cool taxidermy.

    P10253 THE TRADING HOUSE main venue

    My sister and I visited on a Wednesday evening but on seeing the crowds of people laughing, joking and drinking by the bar I had to check it wasn’t a Friday. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a bar with this much midweek atmosphere…and I party a lot so that’s saying something.

    The Trading House has only been open for five months, so I had to question if part of the reason for it’s success was it’s newness. Everyone likes to try something that’s a novelty, right? But then I discovered that this bar is run by Living Ventures, who also own the fabulous Alchemist bars in Manchester and Leeds and Red Door in Liverpool. Living Ventures has been in business since 1993. If there’s a formula for the perfect night out, these guys know what it is. And they create beautiful bars – check out this pic of The Trading House from the mezzanine level, which can be hired out for private parties and functions:

    P10253 THE TRADING HOUSE view from mezzanine

    This is the mezzanine level, which has it’s own beautiful bar:

    P10253 THE TRADING HOUSE mezzanine

    My sister and I have high standards – this is Live Like a VIP after all – so although we were impressed by the crowd and atmosphere, we were intrigued to see what the food and drink offerings would be. We started with the cocktail menu and I was pleased to say it’s a good length and it’s easy to read, which is important if you’d rather talk to your mates or a date than study a dusty old cocktail menu. (Surely, we’ve all been in that situation where the cocktail menu is long and confusing so you pick one at random and it’s hideous?)

    Anyway, hideous is the last adjective I could use to describe The Trading House’s cocktails. More appropriate words are decadence’, ‘sumptuous’, ‘smooth’, ‘fresh’ and perhaps also ‘strong’. We visited during National Chocolate Week, so there was a special cocktail on the menu called Chocolate Rose. Check these out:

    the-trading-house-cocktails

    Be warned – these are so tasty you could finish them in 3 long sips. I advise pacing yourself by sipping on them as you nibble on some bar snacks. We tried a Scotch Egg, which I’m pleased to report was cooked fresh with a lovely runny egg encased in everything that tastes good about sausages. There’s a side of piccalilli to avoid too much of a meat-rush.

    Baked camembert is the perfect texture of a smooth, runny centre with a firm white crust. If you need something to distract your tastebuds from the cocktail so you sip it slower, this is ideal.

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    In between courses, we tried other cocktails. I mean, it’s easy to get lucky and pick one nice drink but what are the rest on the menu like? The Gin and Blueberry Crush is summer in a glass. If you suffer from SAD (feeling depressed when the Winter nights come in) this could be the tonic. It’s fresh but it’s not overly sweet. Delicious!

    Now I must mention the Martinis, as there is a very special reason why you should order a Martini at The Trading House – James Bond. Spectre is out this month and Daniel Craig himself was filming in the area. If you look at the car chase through London scene carefully you will see The Trading House. I’m not a shaken not stirred girl, I’m more of a Strawberry and Mint martini lady with the mint crisply cutting through the fresh tangy strawberry. My sister went for an Earl Grey and Lavender Martini, which oozed sophistication. Smelling it made me think I was in the posh food hall at Fortnum & Mason,  but I still preferred the strawberry one.

    Trading-House-London-martini

    After all this liquid refreshment, we had worked up an appetite. And what better way to solve it than steak and frites. Trust me, this tasted as good as it looked.

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    Fish and chips was the perfect portion of soft fish in a light crispy batter. Thick chips would have been too much with a fish of this size so I found the fries complimented it well.

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    However, the real star of the show is The Trading House’s signature hanging kebabs. You can’t find these at any other venue in the world. Just like black cod is the dish to have at Nobu and crab doughnuts are made famous by The Chiltern Firehouse, hanging kebabs are what you need to order if you visit The Trading House.

    They come to the table on a skewer with a stand. On top of the stand is a pot of warm, melted garlic butter which is poured over the top of the meat at the table making it flavoursome and succulent.

    Hanging Kebab

    Make sure you save some room for dessert as I can vouch for the taste combination and spectacle that is the strawberry and marshmallow kebab. Strawberries and marshmallows and chocolate are my idea of the perfect dessert and when the chocolate is melted over the top and there’s a side of ice cream it’s one non-stop pud-gasm (pudding and orgasm).

    Strawberry-Hanging-Kebab

    Go with mates, go with a date and indulge your inner Bond or Moneypenny. I guarantee everyone will find at least one thing they love on the food and the drinks menu, but do make sure you try a hanging kebab, or you’ll regret it.

    For more information on location, menus etc, see The Trading House website.

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    VIP Night Out: Bill’s

    Do you have a favourite restaurant in central London? Covent Garden can be a daunting place because although the atmosphere is fun and there are some seriously cool shops – especially if you like shoes and trainers – there are a lot of tourist trap restaurants where you will pay over the odds for something bland and uninspiring.

    How about I told you I’ve just sampled the cheapest and most delicious cocktails ever at a bar and restaurant in Covent Garden? They were £4.95 each and they were made with fresh and seasonal ingredients, plus they were beautifully presented. Welcome to the world of Bill’s.

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    And while I’m talking about affordable luxury in London’s expensive areas, I have more good news. Although I visited the Bill’s in St Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, there are locations in all of London’s loveliest (and priciest) places like High St Kensington, Chiswick, Islington, Putney, Wimbledon and more (see a list on Bill’s website). I’ll raise a Hedgerow Spritz (sparkling wine and elderflower) cocktail to that!

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    But then again, I think the Bill’s Pink Spritz (gin, rhubarb cordial, pink grapefruit and pin lemonade) and Bill’s Green Garden (gin, elderflower cordial, fresh mint, cucumber and lime) cocktails are also worth using for toasts. And then drinking afterwards, obviously!

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    Bill’s started life as a café in the front of an independent food store in Lewes, East Sussex and has grown stratospherically from that – a sign it must be doing something right. However, it doesn’t feel like it’s part of a chain with gorgeous, Instagram-friendly décor. The St Martin’s Courtyard venue has piles of produce with jars of sweets and chocolate bars on the shelves, rustic wood furniture, exposed metal and most importantly open air seating so you can dine al fresco. As my sister and I sat outside and looked inside, I had a great view of the restaurant full of tables of friends – there is a happy atmosphere to Bill’s. The restaurant’s motto is from Breakfast to Bedtime and I reckon Bill’s puts a lot of smiles on a lot of people’s faces in that time.

    The menu is huge so my sister and I took up the waitress’s suggestion of picking on a dish of olives while we tried to pick what we wanted most. Those large green, juicy olives were devoured quickly – there’s something about large olives that make them so more-ish! Eventually we decided on halloumi as I’d just returned from Greece and I think Bill’s halloumi was just as tasty as that I tasted while in Santorini. But the main attraction was some mini cumberland sausages with honey and grain mustard – sweet and meaty and finger-licking good!

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    The presentation at Bill’s is just as cute and quirky as the décor. Notice the sausages came in a casserole dish? So did the halloumi but I wolfed it down so quickly, I forgot to take a photo. Sorry about that! I did however manage to take a photo of one of the most interesting salads I’ve had in a while.

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    Interesting can sometimes sound like an insult but I like a dish in which you don’t know what you’re going to get in each mouthful. Eating mouthful of lettuce after another mouthful of lettuce with maybe a piece of rocket to break it up would be dull and boring but my salad contained chickpeas, red cabbage, quinoa, kale leaf, avocado, red onions and chargrilled vegetables with flaked almonds on top and some added protein from a chicken skewer.

    My sister had a healthy meal of sea bass in a chunky tomato, avocado and tomato salsa with a crispy spring onion and parsley potato rosti. Bearing in mind this is Covent Garden, I’d have guessed a sea bass would cost £14.95- £19.95. This was £12.95 and it was perfectly cooked – it melted in the mouth, leaving you with the addictive sauce flavour. Capers and tomatoes is a food mix I’m going to try to repeat at home. Being less health-conscious than me she had a side order of chips but I have to admit they were gooood – chips with skin-on are way better than small fries. These chips were a great size as they weren’t too big or too small.

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    With all that, we really should have been full but I wanted to test the dessert menu. By this stage of the meal, I thought there had to be a catch. We’d had value for money in a sublime environment and the savoury food had been just to our liking. Plus the service is fantastic – the waitresses couldn’t do enough for us and we noticed that it was not just us receiving special treatment. Every table received swift services and smiles, which I think must be infectious at Bill’s. So would the pudding be a disappointment? I am pleased to say the answer is no. Their Eton Mess is a pudding that has to go in my ‘top 10 puddings in London restaurants’ list.

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    Here’s a close-up

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    Not only is the portion generous, they don’t skimp on the crunchy meringue. This means each mouthful is a heavenly mix of crunchy meringue with fresh cream – the smooth and the crunch! Tart strawberries cut through the rich taste and you feel more summery with every mouthful. Try it and you won’t be disappointed!

    The next time someone asks you to meet in central London, suggest Bill’s and win brownie points for knowing about a venue that serves up great food at great value.

    Check out the Bill’s website to see the menu and location details.

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    Rooftop Bar: Soho Sky Terrace

    I recently wrote a blog post about the rooftop terrace at city bar Madison, which is brilliant if you work in the city. But what about if you want to meet friends in central London this summer? Unless you’re a member of a club like Soho House or Century or have cash to burn on booking a fancy hotel suite, there isn’t a huge amount of choice in London.

    Thank goodness then for the Soho Sky Terrace, which has just re-opened at the Courthouse hotel on Great Marlborough Street. This is ideal for the shopping havens of Oxford Street and Carnaby Street, but may we suggest shopping and then relaxing with some drinks? The killer combination of strong cocktails with a view that makes you feel on top of the world may encourage some irrational spending!

    Here’s what you can expect:

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    Browsing the bar menu, I learned this hotel and bar has a long history when it comes to VIPs. The Great Marlborough Magistrate’s court set the scene for many famous court cases including Mick Jagger defending himself against cannabis possession and a court case involve John Lennon and sexually explicit drawings. Take a sip of a martini (there is a long martini cocktail menu) or a little Champagne and let your mind wander to think about the celebs that visited the place in the past and those that will visit it in future.

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    After a few drinks you may feel like dancing, which is when you’ll fully appreciate the location of this venue. Libertine, DSTRKT at Cirque le Soir are all just a few minutes walk away and these are all great for celeb-spotting.

    So how can you get into this wonderful watering hole in the heart of London? If you want to guarantee a table you can book one for a minimum spend (details on the Courthouse Hotel’s website). BUT tables are available on a first come, first served basis. It opens at 3pm so get there early and watch the sun set with a glass of something cold!

    Let us know if you visit. Tweet us @livelikeavip or tag us on Instagram – livelikeavip.

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    VIP Night Out: The Sterling

    When the sun’s out, it would be a crime to waste it by working late or socialising inside. But finding a roof terrace or a bar with a garden can be tough. I look for a place that serves champagne and cocktails along with decent and healthy food, a civilised crowd of customers and all this at affordable prices. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Dorchester but I refuse to go to a place that charges £15 for a cocktail because I feel like I’m being ripped off.

    I recently tried The Sterling, which is located at the foot of The Gherkin. As locations go, it’s unbeatable.

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    The Gherkin is part of every film that’s ever been made about London. When we arrived, I almost felt like I was on a movie set. Talk about living like a VIP!

    The cocktails, which are on average are a very reasonable £8, are gorgeous.

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    Above is the signature drink, The Sterling, which is a summery mix of elderflower liqueur, mint and peach bitters and Champagne. On the right you have the rhubarb and raspberry martini, which was both tart and sweet. Yum!

    I’m a big fan of lavender, so I was also very keen on the Lavender Love – absolut citron vodka with white peach puree, a touch of lavender syrup and pomegrenate juice.

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    There can be no doubt from the photos of the drinks and the smiles on our faces that these are divine. And trust me they taste as good as they look.

    With drinks as good as this you need something to soak it up and just as much care went into the food menu as it did the drinks menu. There is something to suit all tastes and appetites – from a salad with the superfood kale to a comforting soup of the day. My sister and I debated over the starters before I chose the duck egg and chive mayonnaise with shaved lincolnshire poacher and grilled asparagus. 

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    It was rich without being over creamy and it was perfectly seasoned. Seasoning is something the chef excels at as the chicken skewers had a satisfying peanut tang.

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    For mains, my sister had the steak, which was perfectly cooked to her rare to medium specification. She has a lot of steak and she said this was among the best.

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    Meanwhile, I had fish and chips and the batter was beautiful – light and crispy and not at all oily. The chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

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    But the proof is always in the pudding and as a chocoholic, I’ve tasted chocolate desserts in a lot of restaurants. This chocolate brownie melted in my mouth and delivered such an intense hit of cocoa with each bite that it woke me up and put me in a dancing mood.

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    The prize for the prettiest pud must go to my sister’s dessert though – the strawberries and cream sundae.

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    There’s also a grilled figs option if you want to watch the calories but fancy something sweet. It’s nice that there are options available if you want to have a healthy night out in the sun, as it is bikini season after all.

    You can see the full menu on The Sterling website and I’m sure you’ll be impressed. It’s a summer must-visit.

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